Silver Linings at Dawn to Dusk to Dawn

The only decent running photo of me I could find. And Tara looking strong!

Or for me it was Dawn to Dusk...

The 24 hour had always been an elusive beast for me.  It was the first flavor of ultra I ever attempted and for years I was nagged by the feeling that I could do so much better than I was doing at this event.  It took almost four years for me to get it right.  My first attempt was in July 2011. The result was 97 miles by the skin of my teeth. Then one fateful  weekend in November 2014, everything just clicked and I ticked off 142 miles on a one mile loop at NJ One Day. That race earned me a spot on the 2015 USA 24 Hour Team. From there I went on to compete at Worlds in Turin, Italy, where our women's team won Gold and I personally logged 146.5 miles (or something like that).  I ran a 24 hour that July (the same event that had been my first) with the purpose of a win.  It was a hot and slow race for me but I pulled off a win in tough, "typical July in Philly conditions."  Then I happily and completely switched my focus to trails.

That was it.

But then I started to see a roster form of some of the most talented and awesome ladies in the sport of ultra running for the 2019 World Competition. I wanted to be a part of that but didn't know where I could fit in an attempt at a qualifier.  When Barkley ended sooner than I had hoped and my recovery went well, I knew my one shot was Dawn to Dusk to Dawn or D3 as it is called.  I knew the RD Bill Schultz, had crewed athletes who had run it, it was local and I knew it was a quality timed event... on a track none the less.  I registered and began to train on the roads.  It was a short training period (6 weeks) but I was hoping my fitness from Barkley would help. 

Post easy run with Titus.  

Race weekend approaches and the weather is all over the place. Race morning brings a heavy downpour and cooler temps, followed by overcast skies at the start. Ideal!  Turns out the weather wasn't a factor for me anyhow. Temps would eventually climb and it would be muggy! About 90 minutes in a started to feel my legs stiffen like I had run way farther than 10 miles. I stopped to stretch and do some leg swings. All good. By 2 hours in though, I had legit pain in my left hip. I couldn't wait to switch directions but that wasn't for another 2 hours! (Every 4 hours we changed directions on the track...exciting!!)

Ryan had crewed me for the first 2 hours and during that time my only entertainment was to run past him every 400m and laugh at how painfully bored he looked as he sat on a small cooler at our tent.  Jean came to relieve him at around 9am. Ryan had noticed my gait change from the start and saw an issue manifest before I did.  He left to go finish up moving out at our old place, secretly hoping this wouldn't be another story of what a 'stubborn a$$hole" I am.  Jean was great crew. She would offer me nutrition and remind me to keep drinking even though I was now preoccupied with trying to fix my hip. I need to give myself props for my nutrition. Alternating Tailwind and Gu Brew, and Endurance Tap washed down with plain water kept me satiated and not nauseous!

D3 50k champs! My two good friends, Yojo and Daigeaun! (Yoshiko's award will go in her "Shrine to Herself.") 

Kristen Varley offered me some pain gel to start. (She stuck it out through some tough overnight conditions to surpass her goal of 80 miles. She ran 83 miles!! Congrats, K! You are bada$$.)  I applied that to my left hip and stretched.  The problem returned after a few laps. Dennene Huntley from Canada then offered me some amazing Canadian ultra strength pain gel.  Her crew was awesome! Thanks, guys.  But really nothing seemed to be working. Finally, Jean got a mega pain patch from her car and I applied that to my hip. At one point, Traci Falbo came by to check out the track before her start at 7pm and tried to do some PT magic to get my hip moving. Everything was ok for a lap or two then it would return. At this point my other side, IT band, glute, and piriformis, were call causing me issues. The actual left hip didn't feel anything. It was just a chain reaction and my legs were shot. Even my quads hurt! They weren't even sore after Barkley.  Had this flat track just done me in!?!? Probably.

At 8 hours in, when I was struggling to hit 50 miles I knew my minimum goal was not within reach anymore. My legs would not come back. I struggled to run faster than a 15 minute mile.  I stopped and stretched and talked with my crew who had now grew to be Jean, my parents, Elaine Acosta and the 50k champs for the day; Mike Daigeaun and Yoshiko Jo!  I resolved to walk/shuffle until 7pm which would be 12 hours.  After a last chance massage from the awesome massage therapist on site and being fully exploited on social media as Yojo, Elaine and Jean stood and watched, I knew it was a lost cause.

The most rated G massage pic I could find.

And here is where all the silver linings come into play.  I got to shuffle, walk and attempt to run laps with some awesome folks I would not have normally had the pleasure of chatting with. I met Sandy who is also coached by my coach, Michele Yates. She is 61 and was going for the age group record for 100 miles! She is so accomplished and humble and I want to be just like her when I am 60!

I chatted with another woman who had a fused back and metal in her body. She chugged along at a steady pace and was super inspiring and positive.

I commiserated with Clayton Bouchard, who also stepped off the trails to try this strange new flavor of ultra. I think he had his taste and will be back to the trails soon. Probably won't be back to the track all that soon. :) 

Ray K entertained me for many laps.  He knew everyone's name and shouted jokes and encouragement to everyone that ran by. I know he was very disappointed when I called it quits. But I knew there was no other call for me.

Commiserating with Clayton. What's up with my wonky foot placement?

Some were still out there crushing it. Josh Finger, who shared a tent with us, was running well and although he was vomiting all over the place was still moving and in the lead. I really thought he would be able to hang in there. We were both gunning for a spot on Team USA. Josh unfortunately, had to call it during the night. As did Tara Langdon who was crushing it for the women. They both experienced stomach issues that they couldn't come back from. That left steady Emily Collins and Padraig Mullins to keep on chugging for the win. Congrats to everyone!

Congrats, Emily! Try to keep Connie Gardner out of trouble. 

My goal was to make the USA Team.  150ish miles is never guaranteed. I knew that.  When I knew I wasn't going to surpass Megan Alvaredo's stellar 147 I didn't see any reason to continue and didn't feel I had anything to prove. My body wasn't on board which completely prevented my mind from being on board.

That last 2 hours of walking was full of laughter after I had resolved to end my day.  My "pacers" Elaine, Yojo and Jean followed me around the loops as we walked in lane 5.  We checked the weather and the impending storm. I was sad to miss out on such horrible weather! It would have been an adventure. Instead we packed it up and all set out towards my parents house (where Ryan and I are currently staying until our new place is available June 1.. did I mentioned we spent the day prior to my race finishing up our move out of our old place? Yeah fun activities before a long race. I do not recommend.)
My "pacers" for the last hour.

Jean checking the weather while Yoshiko "steers".

On our way to West Chester, the skies opened up. Crazy downpour! We were warm and dry inside the car though!  The rest of the evening was spent around the dinner table with my parents, Ryan, Titus, Jean, Yoshiko and Elaine and I honestly wouldn't trade that for anything. My race wasn't meant to be and this was ok.

"Family portrait."

Another silver lining, a faster recovery time so I could just get back to the trails and the icing on the cake.. I found out during the car ride home from Tracey Outlaw (the amazing power behind the USA 24 Hour social media channels) that Worlds was not in July of 2019 anymore. They announced the date and it was May 10th, 2019.  I had just proved I couldn't make the turn around from Barkley to 24 hour in 6 short weeks. Had I run a qualifier I would have had to choose between the team and applying to Barkley again.

So that brings me to the question I have been asked. Will I try for another qualifier? No. Unless something changes I won't. There honestly aren't too many legit qualifier left now. Desert Solstice will be the last one in the window. I want my focus to be back on Barkley by then and the recovery for something like the 24 hour is too long.

My next focus is Big's Backyard in October and until then I have the summer to have fun, get stronger and deal with whatever discrepancies my body is dealing with right now.  I want to spend time with Titus and Ryan doing some pressure-free running, signing up for some fun local trail races and getting to travel for work (and maybe once for an actual vacation.. that doesn't revolve around racing.)

I am really excited to get to re-unite with some D3 folks at Bigs. Always a pleasure to share a course with the likes of Padraig Mullins and Dave Johnston!  It will be a huge bonus if Bill Schultz can make it down and wow us with his OWGD moves (Old White Guy Dancing).

Thanks to Mike Melton for being the MC and master timer. And to Josh Irvan, co-RD, for being so accommodating before and during D3! You guys really do have world class event here and my only regret was that I couldn't put up a world class performance this past weekend. But they are called world class for a reason and are few and far between.  If you are thinking about doing something big on the track. I truly recommend this event.  At the very least you will have a fun time. It's the people not the surface that make it fun.  In my humble opinion...

Padraig and Sandy.

Jean, thank you for taking such great care of me. Can I recruit you another time?  You have got to witness two of my $hit$hows. Maybe one day there will be a good one.

So back to the trails (and maybe a bit of road) to get ready for Big's Backyard.  And we will see what the summer brings.

Calling it a day. 
All pics by Elaine Acosta except I think Jean took this last one.


  1. I was hoping to see you in Austria next year but looks like that's not going to happen. Enjoy the trails - you're still an awesome runner!


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